If you caught part one of this post last week I hope you’re now shooting in manual, or at least experimenting with your camera settings a little. If not, head on over here to catch up on the techy stuff.
If you want a guide to some of the manual settings on your DSLR camera, just follow THIS link >> free photography reference guide
And now, let’s get into the fun stuff. Because that’s really what amateur photography is all about right? Having a play, looking for fun stuff to take pictures of, messing it up, trying again and making it look pretty.
I’ll hold my hands up right now and tell you that I’m not the best at any of these things. Every few months I look back at the pictures I was once super proud of and cringe at the shoddy editing, crappy framing and hammy placement of bits and pieces I thought looked great. But actually looked terrible. And a little try-hard too.
BUT, you have to try these things to find your style and all that and even when I kinda hate my gallery, I still don’t delete anything because I like seeing how I’ve progressed. A gem of a lesson told to me by the Insta-wizard Sara Tasker.
Early on in my photography journey I discovered my biggest weakness: composition. I am truly awful at composing a beautiful shot. Okay, that’s not strictly true actually. I’m quite good with the details in a bigger scene. So, if I’m at a famous landmark, like the Taj Mahal or whatever I will find a gorgeous detail and take an interesting shot showcasing it in a different way.
But ask me to take a picture of a group of people, or a landscape, or a fast moving street scene, or a nice still life in my flat and I become catatonic resulting in a fairly hideous shot.
But I know a few tricks, these are the basic rules of composition and you’d do very well to learn them if you, like me, lose your sh*t trying to arrange a gorgeous picture.
There are lot more ‘rules’ than these and if you want to go deeper into any of them I’d recommend having a good old Google, but these are my quick reference guide. Sometimes I don’t follow any rules and that’s cool too, you gotta go with your gut 🙂
The Rule of Thirds
Imagine your screen is divided into three lines horizontally and vertically, nine little squares. You don’t actually have to imagine this as your DSLR screen has nifty little lines in your viewfinder, and you can tweak your display settings to show you it on your smartphone too.
The idea with this rule is to position the subject of your photo along these lines, or at the intersecting points.
Ooooh I J’ADORE this rule, it’s my favourite to look at. In fact, most of us like to look at this too — our eyes are naturally drawn to lines, so it makes sense to utilise this in your photography.
Roads in a forest, especially tree-lines are obvious choices, or a path through a winding mountain. Think outside of the box too — train tracks are always gorgeous, especially when you get down low at the same level as them.
This is a trickier one to explain, mostly because I’m pretty terrible at utilising it myself. I’ll try my best though.
If the subject of your photo is the positive space in the frame, then everything around it is, yep, you guessed it — the negative space. It’s basically as simple as that. Except….it isn’t.
Have you ever looked at something in real life and thought: “Wow, so gorgeous. I must take a picture!” only to take the picture and find it falls flat? It’s just dull and doesn’t capture what you saw AT ALL? Working with negative space can alleviate that.
Instead of focusing on the subject – focus on the space around it. Perhaps while keeping your subject off-centre/across grid lines you can see some gorgeous shadows somewhere? Or perhaps there’s an incredible series of unintentional shapes in the background of your picture? That kind of thing. When you look at a slightly more interesting flatlay shot, you can see how the photographer is working with the negative space around the subject without feeling pressured to fill the entire frame with ‘stuff’.
Fill the Frame
By this, I don’t mean that you need to fill the entire frame with random stuff. What I mean by this is look at the edges of your frame, and aim to fill them with something interesting, something that’ll ultimately draw the eye to your subject.
This is best understood with landscapes where mountains, or trees frame the edges leading your eye into a beautiful lake in the middle perhaps.
OMG this is my FAVOURITE part of the photography process. I LOVE editing. The things you can do in post-production are magical, and honestly I encourage you to learn the basics then go mental – get really outrageous to see just how far you can go…..then obviously pull it back so your pictures look nice, and not like a hideous photoshopped mess.
And nowadays there are so many free editing suites around, especially for your smartphone, that you can get some really stunning results super quickly and easily. No courses, or technical knowledge required (although that helps).
This is about 79p or something crazy, and it’s amazing. You can edit contrast, exposure, sharpness and even add grain (but don’t do that please!)
A Color Story
From the A Beautiful Mess gals, this is a super cool app, although I don’t use it lots to be honest. It comes with some amazing paid extra features with things like bokeh, light leaks…..the list goes on.
Adobe Lightroom CC
To me, nothing beats Lightroom for superior photo organisation and general amazing-ness. It’s my preferred way to edit and it’s SUPER simple. You can buy the entire Creative Cloud package or pay for it monthly.
Adobe Photoshop CC
I used Photoshop a lot when I was a staff writer, as I had to create jazzy composite shots, pixelate naked body parts and draw red circles and point arrows at crocodiles in the water (to add shock value).
But outside of that I don’t use it much at all. It is great for creating photo layouts for your blog though, and for getting rid of annoying tourists from a beautiful beach shot too.
This is a really simple, free tool for very basic editing. You can crop and resize your blog pictures in here which is handy — and there are a few paid add-ons too.
I don’t think I can explain this in any other way than through the wise words of my Insta-Fam. This is what faffing means to them…..
If you want a nifty little guide to your camera’s manual settings, head on over here >> free photography reference guide.